After many years of ups-and-downs, we are proud announce that our vision of creating an assisted living center has become a reality. Introducing Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Glenn Garcia owner and operator, as the new land-owner and developer for the assisted living community adjacent to the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center. The 10 acre site will be developed with an eye on expandability including direct access to the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center campus.
We affiliated with MBE because of their proven track record and experience in developing assisted living centers that succeeded and thrived in similar communities.
Now that this project is complete for the SPCF, we will shift our focus and attention to the Fox Theatre in Walsenburg.
The Spanish Peaks Community Foundation was established to improve Huerfano County by supporting non-profit community groups who work on projects concerning youth, health, economic development, arts & entertainment, housing, and education.
The Spanish Peaks Community Foundation has created a culture of philanthropy and planned giving from local members of the community, as well as from those who have a strong connection to the Huerfano County.
We need your support and enthusiasm! How can you help?
Make a donation.
Ask SPCF to speak to your organization.
Write a letter of support from you or your foundation for our projects.
Join the foundation: $25 to be a new member, $100 to be a supporting member, $250 to be a contributing member, $1000 to be a sustaining member.
Donate in-kind services.
Designate SPCF in your will.
Mailing Address: SPCF, PO Box 1101, Walsenburg, CO 81089
WALSENBURG — When George Birrer and John Luginbill went in together to purchase the decrepit Fox Theatre in 1991, they knew they were buying a fixer-upper, but didn’t know how much. The theatre had been closed for the previous ten years, and had been neglected the entire time. “There were holes in the roof, the ceiling was caving in, there were puddles of standing water on the stage, and the seats were all rotted out,” Birrer ticked off the problems. “It was a real struggle,” he said mildly. Birrer and Luginbill had a vision to create a youth center for Walsenburg, to give kids who had no place else to hang out a place to go, and a place to work. The two men and their supporters worked tirelessly after that, pouring in countless hours of labor and a fair amount of their own money to make the non-profit venture a reality. Grants along the way helped enormously, and the community saw remarkable changes in what was once an eyesore at the end of town. They created the Spanish Peaks Alliance for Arts and Education to help fund and manage the theatre, and this was the group that was instrumental in fundraising to purchase the $60,000 digital movie projector last year, enabling the Fox to show new first-run movies. Over the years, the Fox was host to a wide variety of live performances, from being the home of El Fandango, the local student folklorico dance troupe for 12 years, to being the biggest venue for the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival concert series for the past ten years. And now, 24 years later, these two guys are tired, and ready to pass the torch. After looking around for a suitable entity to manage it carefully and be around for the long haul, they chose to pass it on to Huerfano County itself, via the county commissioners. On Tuesday, there was a formal signing, passing the building on to the county, and next week, another signing will pass the assets of the SPAAE over to the county as well. The one large requirement of taking over the building, is that the vintage Wurlitzer pipe organ, which is one of very few left in the country, must stay in place. Concerts on the organ are planned soon. The county, not being in the movie theatre business, has contracted with the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation to run and maintain the theatre.
WALSENBURG — George Birrer invites everyone to a free one hour long concert on Walsenburg’s Wonderful Wurlitzer at the Fox Theatre, 715 Main Street on Sunday afternoon, July 26, 2015 at 3 pm. The Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ with piano said to have cost $9,000 was purchased by Paul Krier, owner of the Star Theatre, in 1923 to provide background music and sound effects for silent movies. The Fox movie chain acquired, remodeled, renamed, and reopened the theatre in 1941. At that time, the organ was removed by a Denver organ firm and installed in St. Mary Catholic Church where it was played for several years by Jewel Geiger (who worked with her father in the theatre), Rosemary Luginbill, Gladys Habib, and others, until the mid 1980s. Since theatre organs aren’t suitable for church music, the sound effects and theatrical-sounding pipes were removed and replaced with church organ pipes. In 1992 George Birrer, John Luginbill and members of the Huerfano Youth and Arts Foundation acquired the Fox Theatre, and a few years later, they decided to return the organ to the theatre. Several years later, the non-profit Pikes Peak Area Theatre Organ Society in Colorado Springs began the restoration of the organ under the guidance of organ technician Don Wick. Funding was provided by the organ society, grants, and donations from various organizations, members of the Krier family, and others in the Walsenburg community. Several thousand man-hours were invested by members of the organ society. The restoration involved acquiring vintage Wurlitzer sound effects and pipes and rebuilding the 90 year-old organ and piano to return them to their original configuration. This combined pipe organ and piano was unique and the Walsenburg instrument is one of the few remaining survivors and worthy of preservation. After 75 years, organist Bob Flinn of Colorado City has agreed to play the organ for the public in its original home. Flinn has played at the Paramount Theatre in Denver on their “Mighty Wurlitzer” and many other public theatre organs in Colorado Springs. He will soon be heard playing the “Awesome Austin 4/55” in Pueblo. Come enjoy an afternoon of Walsenburg’s Wonderful Wurlitzer.
Seven individuals from Huerfano County will be honored this fall by the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation at the 4th Annual Legends of the Spanish Peaks Black Tie Gala. Honorees this year will be George Birrer, Dennis Maes, and Sister Carol Tlach and four who will receive the award posthumously, Martha King Spock, Joseph Habib, John Mall and Charles Masinton.
The Legends of the Spanish Peaks Black Tie Gala will be Saturday, October 17, 2015 at the Huerfano County Community Center 928 Russell Avenue in Walsenburg. It begins at 6:00 p.m with a cash bar and 7:00 p.m. for the dinner. The purpose, in addition to raising money for the organization’s work within the county, is to honor Huerfano County citizens, past and present who, by their extraordinary effort, have contributed to the betterment or enhancement of Huerfano County.
George Birrer was selected for his work individually, and with others, on numerous projects in and around Walsenburg from the renovation of the Fox Theatre, the Wurlitzer organ, the Spanish Peaks Library, and the efforts for annexation of the northlands area.
Sister Carol Tlach was selected for her dedication to the needs of others. Her work for the needy and especially those in ill health goes back to the 1970’s when she first came to the area to help with St. Mary’s school as a teacher.
Retired District Judge Dennis Maes has had a distinguished law career in Pueblo, however it is his generous donation of time and talent in Pueblo and throughout the state for which he is being honored. His “Project Respect” teamwork program for truant youth is recognized nationally and his work with groups like the El Pomar Foundation and the Colorado Lottery Board has touched Southern Colorado a great deal.
Martha King Spock will be remembered for her work with students through the El Fandango dance program for over 40 years. This program has helped hundreds of high school students learn dance, creativity, teamwork, history and poise.
Joseph Habib was a local businessman who was a visionary. He saw that the city and county could not grow without sufficient water. He was elected to the city Water Utilities Board in 1965 when they constructed water lines and enough mains to bring all of the water from the La Veta Lake to the lower lake to serve Walsenburg and provided sewer lines to 99% of the town.
John Mall was a man who led by example, always attentive to the value of education, hard work, honesty, community service, and caring. Mr. Mall served as Superintendent when Huerfano County schools were consolidated into two districts and he oversaw the passage of a $1,250,000 school bond which included $900,000 for the high school that now bears his name.
Charles Masinton, long time beloved La Veta merchant, will be honored for his dedicated volunteerism throughout the region. His generosity and faith in man-kind was truly legendary. Charlie’s mercantile and ice cream store was a favorite of everyone in the La Veta area and his community work through Rotary and San Isabel Electric made the region a better place to live and work.
Tickets for the October 17th Gala are $60 per person or $100 per couple. Tickets are limited and need to be purchased by October 10th. They may be purchased from the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation Board Members, John Galusha, Todd Oberheu, Max Vezzani, Art Bobian, Paul Machmuller, Hugh Brown, Keith Varner or Gretchen Orr at the Huerfano World Journal Office, or by calling Mike Peters at 719-880-4292 or online with a credit card at www.spanishpeakscf.org.
Public invited to screening of Colorado Experience and Q & A with Rocky Mountain PBS filmmakers
Rocky Mountain PBS and The Museum of Friends will host a night of Colorado history Tuesday, March 31 at the Fox Theatre in Walsenburg. The event, which is open to the public, features screenings of two episodes of Colorado Experience, the Rocky Mountain PBS series that preserves and celebrates the people, events and places that have shaped Colorado. Two of the show’s producers will discuss the episodes and take audience questions following the screenings.
The first Colorado Experience episode, “The Smaldones: Family of Crime,” highlights the lives of the Colorado-based Smaldones, who made their living as bootleggers, loan sharks and gamblers for four decades. The second episode, “The Ludlow Massacre,” examines a violent labor strike involving miners in Las Animas County in 1914. Each episode is 30 minutes long.
Colorado Experience Executive Producer and Director Julie Speer, and Producer and Editor Mariel Rodriguez-McGill will lead a discussion after the two episodes.
The screening begins at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31 at the Fox Theater, 715 Main St, Walsenburg, CO, 81089. Admission is free.
Museum of Friends will also host after-school screenings of the two episodes at La Veta School and the Sangre de Cristo Youth Services at Museum of Friends on Wednesday, April 1. These screenings are closed to the public.
About Colorado Experience:
Colorado Experience is Rocky Mountain PBS’ locally produced history series dedicated to preserving and celebrating the people, events and places that shaped Colorado. It airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS. Learn more and watch full episodes online at http://rmpbs.org/coloradoexperience.
The Depot/Huerfano County Welcome Center is seeking volunteers. Are you a fan of history? Do you love to share stories about our community? Do you love to travel? SPCF is looking to coordinate Tourism Ambassadors to staff and run The Depot. Interested folks can fill out a small questionnaire online or print and mail. We’re asking for availability so we can build a volunteer schedule. Flyers are attached. Please print and share in your community.
Board Meeting – Public – Wednesday, March 25th, from 2-4PM.
Member and Volunteer Social – Walsenburg Golf Course – Saturday, March 28th from 3PM-Whenever.